Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

Last year "American Idol" did a 2.1 on this night. Last night FOX did a 0.8. Let that marinate in your brain for a while.
The questions and comments keep rolling in. Here are two:
@gvanice tweets, "Do shows like @bigbangtheory and @ModernFam go an extra minute in order to run extra commercials to cover high costs?"
Yes they do. This is not an extra minute of program time but rather an extra minute of commercials. Networks charge a different CPM (cost per thousand impressions) for each show, so if one show is more valuable than the adjacent show, they will move a minute of commercials into the more valuable show.
One of the reasons why you see changes in the ratings from the fast nationals to the finals is that the fast nationals report half-hours while the finals report program ratings, which adds the extra minute to a 31-minute (for example) show.
From BM I got this email:
"I've worked in television (on the local level) for the past 16 years and am well aware of the importance of sweeps - especially February, May and November. However, it seems like over the past couple of years, sweeps haven't meant as much - at least for the networks. I seem to remember CBS airing repeats the final week of sweeps either last year or the year before. FOX wrapped up 'American Idol' awfully early last year (don't think it even made it to May) and 'This is Us' didn't make it past March for NBC this year. What gives? Are the networks not putting as much emphasis on sweeps months now because they're moving more towards a 12-month season? Is it a scheduling issue, or all of the above?"
There are several reasons. It is important to note that way back, all stations depended on Nielsen diaries in sweeps for demographic data -- not just for primetime shows, but more importantly for their local news and syndicated programming. Over the years local people meters (LPMs) have replaced diaries in more and more markets making sweeps less relevant. Stations now get daily demographic data.
As networks have reduced the traditional 22-episode order of shows (CBS smartly being the exception) they have to schedule differently and therefore often run out of episodes. There are now more repeats in May, and the networks now start some of their summer programming early.
When I started in the scheduling game sweeps were a big deal and the networks would hold press conferences after each sweep. I have a blown-up cover of Variety the day after FOX won its first sweep.
Back in the day the official TV season ended in April and the May sweep had lots of repeats. I understood the importance of the May sweep to our affiliates, so I stretched the originals into May and the other networks sort of followed. May was suddenly a month of originals.
I think sweeps started to become bragging rights for the networks and lost their real purpose of giving local stations measurable data that they could use to sell advertising.
Wanna see your question on TVBTN? Then tweet me @maskedscheduler or email me at
Last night's schedule:
- "NXT" (WWE Network)
- "Designated Survivor" (ABC, L+1)
- "Empire" (FOX, L+1)
- "The Goldbergs" (ABC, L+9)
The DVR is filling up and it's WrestleMania weekend.
If you're an occasional wrestling fan and will be at a WrestleMania party, the three matches to pay attention to are:
- Neville v. Aires
- RAW Women’s Fatal Four Way
- Kevin Owens v. Chris Jericho
Those are the show stealers.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Thursday, March 30, 2017

The numbers for Thursday include a couple of series lows and improvements for ABC and The CW:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 2.5/11 12.60
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 2.1/8 7.89
Masterchef Junior (FOX) 1.0/4 3.52
Superstore (NBC) – R 0.7/3 2.72
Supernatural (The CW) 0.6/2 1.73
8:30 p.m. The Great Indoors (CBS) 1.4/6 7.15
Powerless (NBC) 0.6/2 1.96
9 p.m. Scandal (ABC) 1.6/6 6.00
Mom (CBS) 1.3/5 7.09
Chicago Med (NBC) 0.9/3 5.85
Kicking and Screaming (FOX) 0.6/2 1.82
Riverdale (The CW) 0.4/2 0.98
9:30 p.m. Life in Pieces (CBS) 1.1/4 5.59
10 p.m. The Amazing Race (CBS) – P 0.9/3 4.36
The Blacklist: Redemption (NBC) 0.8/3 4.06
The Catch (ABC) 0.8/3 3.47


A pair of veteran shows hit series lows among adults 18-49 Thursday night. “The Big Bang Theory” scored a 2.5, down 0.3 from its last episode, and “Chicago Med” (0.9) went under 1.0 for the first time.

The news was better at ABC, where “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.1, +0.2) and “Scandal” (1.6, +0.3) both posted gains vs. last week. “The Catch” also ticked up to 0.8, pending updates.

The rest of CBS’ comedies were a little below average as well: “The Great Indoors” posted a 1.4, “Mom” a 1.3 and “Life in Pieces” a 1.1. “The Amazing Race” premiered to a 0.9, a little above average for the time period so far this season.

“Powerless” drew a season-low 0.6 for NBC, but “The Blacklist: Redemption” (0.8) rose a tenth of a point. “Supernatural” (0.6) was also up on The CW, while “Riverdale” held steady at 0.4.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/6 1.4/5 0.8/3 0.8/3 0.5/2
Total Viewers (millions) 5.78 6.86 4.08 2.67 1.35


Late-night metered market ratings (adults 18-49, households):

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/3, 1.9/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5/3, 2.4/6

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” – R: 0.5/3, 1.6/4

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.3/2, 1.1/4

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.2/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.0/3

: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.
Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings are available at approximately 11 a.m. ET the day after telecast. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. 
Share (of Audience): 
The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. 
Time Shifted Viewing:
 Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live +Same-Day and Live +7 Day. Time-shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+SD includes viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3 a.m. local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live +7 ratings include  viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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